Past events: 2003/2004

This archive page is for reference only.

The Asian Music Circuit's touring programme for 2003/2004 once again presents an exciting range of traditional and contemporary music from all over Asia. This year's programme is going back to the roots, featuring favourite masters from India including Shivkumar Sharma & Zakir Hussain and Remember Shakti plus a new edition of our series on 'Music of the Mystics'.


April/May 2003

Music & Dance from Xinjiang Region (China): Uyghur Muqam Ensemble

A new group of soloists and dancers by popular demand

Following the very successful tour of the Uyghur musicians from Xinjiang in 2000, the AMC is inviting a new group from this remote corner of Central Asia to perform the Uyghur Twelve Muqam. Drawn from the Uyghur Muqam Ensemble, the group includes some of the finest performers in the region, rooted in the hereditary musical traditions of the southern Kashgar area. This prestigious genre of music is traced back to the sixteenth century and the court of the Yarkand Khanate in Kashgar. Each Muqam comprises a series of vocal and instrumental pieces, beginning with a meditative unmetered introduction, moving through slower metered pieces and culminating in fast dance pieces. Muqam lyrics are drawn from the great Central Asian poets like Nawayi, or the epic tales of the lovers Ghärip and Sänäm. Much of the poetry is linked to the imagery and ideals of the Sufis. Playing the Muqam is not reserved to an exclusive group of professional musicians; historically it was performed in folk contexts as well as in the courts of local kings. 
We have chosen to invite a small group of singers who accompany themselves on plucked and bowed lutes, dulcimer and drums, plus two classical dancers, recalling the style of performance favoured by the former Central Asian kings.


May 2003

Sufi Music from the Shrines of Afghanistan

First of its kind in the UK following the recent developments

It is well known that music making in Afghanistan suffered badly in a very suppressive political environment and that many musicians either went "underground" or escaped out of the country. It is heartening to know that a revival has commenced of the traditional music making and the tour in the UK of Sufi Music from the Shrines of Afghanistan is the first one of its kind in the UK following the ousting of the Taliban from power. The ensemble of musicians is made up from some who stayed in their homeland and some who went into exile in Europe. The musicians are renowned in their field and represent the best of the music traditions of Afghanistan. Some of them have been nominated for the WOMEX world music awards as members of another group based in Switzerland.
The music they perform includes both the SUFI music associated with the khanakas and shrines dedicated to some of the great Sufi saints such as Khwaja Mohinuddin Chishti including ghazal, hamd and other devotional songs with a very strong base in Sufi poetry and also the vibrant and exciting folk music of the region. Although the musical style is definitely from Afghanistan, the connection with music of Iran and India is discernible.

This is the first time this particular ensemble has been brought together - with members coming from Afghanistan and Europe.


May/June 2003

Shivkumar Sharma & Zakir Hussain

Two giants of Indian Music is a rare duo set-up of santoor and tabla

Shivkumar Sharma is the genius that took the santoor out of its folk context and into the world of classical music. It is not just his mastery over the instrument , with his own unique technique producing glissandi on an instrument whose strings are essentially struck with small wooden hammers , but more importantly his command, authority and imagination in Indian classical music that has given integrity to this beautiful instrument.
Born into a famous musical family and a virtuoso on the classical Indian tabla since the age of twelve, Zakir Hussain's consistently brilliant and exciting performances have not only made him a national treasure in his own country but have established him as a major name in percussion world-wide. No one can fail to be utterly impressed by his shear energy, control of rhythm and creativity. 
The on-stage collaboration of Pt Shivkumar Sharma and Ustad Zakir Hussain is utterly dynamic and exciting and a rare treat for audiences in Europe: a significant tour as these two great artists have not performed together in the UK since their last AMC tour in 1991/2.


July/August 2003

Asian Music Circuit Summer School 2003

Rajan and Sajan Misra (North Indian vocal: khyal)
, Uday Bhawalkar (North Indian vocal: dhrupad), 
Sunanda Sharma (North Indian vocal: thumri)
 and Purbayan Chatterjee (sitar)

Every year the AMC is bringing a number of top Indian classical artists to London to teach at our annual summer school. All artists are available for solo concerts in the week before and after the workshop period. In 2003 guest artists will include khyal masters Rajan & Sajan Misra, the delightful thumri vocalist Sunanda Sharma and the most renowned of the young generation of dhrupad singers, Uday Bhawalkar and the talented Sitarist Purbayan Chatterjee.


October 2003

Baul Music from Benagl & Rajasthani Folk Music featuring Mira Bhajans 

A new edition of our series presenting mystical and ritual music from Asia

This double programme explores India's most ancient traditions of mysticism and devotion. Devotional songs and poetry written by some of India's deepest mystics, Mira Bai and Sant Kabir will be presented by a group of Rajasthani bards. To the Indian mind, Mira Bai represents the ideal devotee, single minded and uncompromising in her devotion to her beloved Krishna, yet accessible in her courage against a male dominated society. Sant Kabir on the other side, a humble weaver from Kasi, stands out as a "spiritual terrorist", urging his listeners to observe their own lives and wake up to the truth. Their poems and songs form the spiritual home of the eternal flame of viraha, the burning aspiration within every soul to seek ultimate union with the boundless ocean of the divine.

In the second part the stage will be taken by the Bauls, the "wild philosophers" of Bengal " The Bauls of West Bengal and other parts of Eastern India and Bangladesh are wandering minstrels promoting a mystical tradition known as sahajiya. Nomadic in nature , their origins are unclear but have been linked to ancient Vedic times, to Buddhist-Tantric faith , to Sufism and especially to the VAISHNAVA movement of the 15th century led by Chaitanya. The word "baul" means "frenzied", " in a state of trance" or " wild". Bauls are characterised by their cloths of multi-coloured patchwork which very distinctly set them apart from the rest of society. The Bauls cannot be said to belong to any one philosophy or faith and seek promote a view of society that is without barriers and in which man is given free reign to explore his own essential powers.


November 2003

Remember Shakti

The legend reunited, feat. John McLaughlin & Zakir Hussain

Guitar legend John McLaughlin and tabla maestro Zakir Hussain first took the world by storm in the mid-'70's with their band Shakti's supreme fusion of Indian classical music and jazz. Intelligence, beauty and power were the watchwords behind the three albums which Shakti produced, and these sentiments live on and grow in its successor 'Remember SHAKTI' which takes the synthesis to even greater heights. McLaughlin and Hussain are joined by the ferocious talents of electric mandolin genius U. Shrinivas and percussion whiz-kid V. Selvaganesh to produce music which seems to defy possibility in its sheer passion, brilliance, depth and creativity. A super-group if ever there was one.

Jagjit Singh

The world renowned Ghazal King reutrns to the UK

Indisputably one of the most talented artists in India, Jagjit Singh has thrilled audiences world-wide with his talents as a composer and musician. He now returns to the UK for an exclusive tour set to astound his fans and fill their lives with the beauty of his unforgettable Ghazals.


Spring 2004

Lhamo - Tibetan Ritual Opera

Spectacular masked dances and devotional rituals

Gods, hermits, hunters, enchanted forests, and star-crossed lovers - it could only be opera (or Tolkien!). And unlike in European versions, it all ends well because the Buddhist ethos of this entertainment defeats evil and rewards the steadfast. 
Tibet has kept the colourful, fascinating art form of Lhamo very much to itself over the last few hundred years, enjoying it in the summer months in the public parks in Lhasa or in the compounds of the monasteries. The brilliant costumes of the ache Lhamo ('sister goddesses'), who gave their name to the genre, are joined on stage by groups of hunters (ngonpo, with huge dark masks and white beards) and sundry other characters: deities, priests, story-tellers, high-born ladies and gentlemen, and some more rustic characters. The latter are there to make fun of everyone, satirising the entire society, and criticising social matters which are on everyone's minds: taxation used to be a firm favourite! Lhamo stories are well known by the audience, so there is a good deal of interaction, with shouts of warning for the goodies and boos for the bad guys. The songs are sung to a sparse accompaniment of cymbals and drums, and these instruments also give the tempo to all the action and miming. A rich combination of stories told with music, mime, acrobatics and glorious costumes, and unlike anything else you have experienced before!